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Screenjabber Review - Vanishing of the Bees

by Neil, published on October 10, 2010 - 19:44

"If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.” That was the view of one Albert Einstein who, while not necessarily a bee expert, did have a pretty good quota of active grey cells. You can then debate the accuracy of Albert's theory, however the main problem appears to be whether he'd got the time scale right. His basic point — if the bees go, we're screwed — is pretty bloody sound.

The news, then, that the bees are indeed disappearing should be reason to panic and prompt Governments everywhere to set-up well-funded think tanks, find out why and do something about it. Of course, as is so often the case with all things ecological, the reasons appear to be man made and the result of massively wealthy corporations fucking us over for a few more dollars. And guess who make the rules on funding? That's right. The people whose fault it is. Even EPA, the US Environmental Protection Agency, has taken its stance on the bee issue from the chemical companies who appear to be to blame.

I say "appear" because: a) without proper independent, long term funding, we'll never know for sure; and b) this film, for all its good-hearted panic, is painfully, embarrassingly woolly about the subject.

You want the makers to load up and steam into the issue with all guns blazing, particularly when it comes to the two key issues of who/what's to blame and what we, the general public can do to stop it happening. Instead, they take too long to get there and then pretty much skip over it. That's a terrible waste of time, effort and filmstock however you look at it but, given that they've given so much screen time to some vaguely bee-related utter bollocks, it's almost criminal.

It's simple really. Give us the "why" and some constructive suggestions to put this right and not some "expert" discussing the "almost sexual" nature of pollination or, worst of all, an academic wittering on about how we can save the bees by "returning to the sacred feminine"? Seriously, WTF?

Vanishing of the Bees should be a must-see film, a call to arms against the major chemical companies whose products are, it appears, to blame for this EARTH THREATENING ECOLOGICAL DISASTER. Instead, Henein and Langworthy seem scared to make any point whatsoever.

Somewhere in here, there’s a sharp, pointed 45 minute essential film. If only they’d had the talent and the balls to make it.

Rating: 2 out of 4

SECOND OPINION | Tom Roberts *** Keeping bees in your London roof garden may be all the rage at the moment, but there’s good reason to do so beyond having something to talk about at dinner parties. Vanishing of the Bees is a documentary about Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, a mysterious phenomenon sweeping the globe wiping out swarms of bees. The name of the film is an almost literal description of CCD: hives fallen foul of the disorder are filled with bees one moment, then suddenly empty the next, save for a few lonely bees scurrying around pointlessly. The documentary attempts to answer why this happens with farmers and scientists throwing in their respective theories, and illustrates the dramatic, widespread effects CCD will have on food supplies if countermeasures are not undertaken.

Once you get over the narrator’s terribly monotone voice, like something out of an 80s educational science video you watched in school, Vanishing of the Bees proves to be a thought-provoking documentary. The beekeepers interviewed are a loveable bunch. Their livelihoods depend on the bees and without them they have no income. You want the scientists researching CCD to succeed for the beekeepers’ sake alone. On a grander scale, without the bees crop pollination is limited to such an extent that scientists believe we’ll all be living off rice if CCD isn’t dealt with.

The finger of blame is largely pointed in the direction of the mega corporations that develop the pesticides sprayed over the crops the bees pollinate. Their regulation is governed by the Environmental Protection Agency, but the organisation depends on the good word of the pesticide manufacturers – conflicts of interest abound. This raises an interesting issue with the film itself. The UK’s Co-operative group stumped up a significant amount of money to fund Vanishing of the Bees’ creation. A small segment of the film is little more than a glorified advert for the supermarket company. And how can consumers help avert CCD? By purchasing more expensive organic items of course! In fairness, this is logical but there is room for cynicism here.

Vanishing of the Bees is a very personal film, tenderly telling the story of beekeepers’ – each one a microcosm of the greater problem. Think of it as less catastrophic version of An Inconvenient Truth and you’re not far off. While it’s unlikely Vanishing of the Bees will make quite the impact Al Gore’s Oscar winner did, this is nevertheless an absorbing and eye-opening documentary.

Source: www.screenjabber.com